Newsflash: Rogaine Stocks Fly Through The Roof

Once in a long while the earth produces a human being who is a visionary.  An out-of-the-box thinker.  Someone who can see the big picture and theorize about upcoming trends and changes. 

I happen to be lucky enough to have one of those in my very own household.  Because of homeschooling, our youngest son has had the freedom to become something of a “Thinker.”  You know him as “H-T,” but the world will one day know him as the “Boy Who Foretold World Baldness.”

I’m afraid it just isn’t ethical to keep all this knowledge within the family anymore.  I feel it is my duty to inform the world of what they may or may not want to know about the future that awaits us.  May I introduce to you the theories of the 21st Century Nostradamus…

THEORY #1 – STOP BUILDING THOSE ASTEROID SHELTERS!

H-T believes that although geologic evidence shows that asteroids have created havoc on earth every 65 million years or so, we can stop looking toward the skies with our telescopes and asteroid armor.  The fact that we are thousands of years past due for our latest impact, H-T says, means that the source of all those previous rock fights has probably shifted somewhere else in the universe.  I gotta tell you, I am really relieved about that one, because I have my eye on that proposed shelter space in the back yard for a whirlpool!

THEORY #2 – IS THAT A UNIVERSE IN YOUR POCKET, OR ARE YOU JUST HAPPY TO SEE ME?

This theory, which I freely admit I don’t understand more than five or six words of, involves the ability to change history by traveling back through time in a “pocket universe,” which I gather is some sort of alternate dimension.  Hey, if I could take back that frizzy perm the week before 9th grade class pictures, I’d get in anybody’s pocket.elmer fudd

THEORY #3 – UNCLE RUSSELL IS ALREADY, LIKE, SO EVOLVED

Theory #3 involves the changes that will begin to take place in human anatomy and physiology.  H-T foresees the human species growing larger heads to accommodate brains that will be growing to keep up with quickly advancing technologies.  But at the same time, they will be trying to adapt to the rising temperatures created by Global Warming.  Therefore, larger heads and less body hair will be the new fashion trend in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue of 2,343.

THEORY #4 – NO MORE EXCUSES FOR MISSING CHRISTMAS DINNER

H-T firmly believes that at the rate the continents are moving each year  – – 1 to 10 cm – – (so that explains that woozy feeling I get when I stand still!) they will eventually all bump into one another at some point in the future, creating a repeat performance of Pangaea.  That means we’ll all be getting a little closer, and needing a little more Arrid Extra Dry, folks! When I asked him how he could possibly know this to be the case, the following conversation ensued:

H-T: “Mom, don’t you understand the 12 Monkeys paradigm?”  (Yes, he said paradigm.)

Me: “Uh, no.  Were they a music group from the 70’s?”

H-T: (Rolls eyes)  “It says that if you put 12 monkeys and 12 typewriters in a room for 1,000 years, eventually one of them would write Hamlet.  It’s the same way with Pangaea.”

Me: “Oh, that paradigm.”  (Looks for the scar on back of H-T’s scalp where the aliens implanted the chip)

 

So…

you guys wanna know MY theory? 

I think that homeschooled kids may rule the world one day. 

And that they will be the ones with the fattest, baldest heads of all.  THE END.

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I’m Coming Out of the (Water) Closet

Ok, so that is really pushing it for a clever blog post title.  But technically, it is the truth.  I’m afraid I’ve spent the last few days getting far too acquainted with our bathroom (aka British: water closet) due to an intestinal bug of sorts.  Don’t worry…I’m all about keeping quiet when gory details are better left unshared.  Suffice it to say that I’ve had enough time in there to redesign the bathroom at least 20 different ways in my head. 

But having all that “me” time, has given me time to think.  And oh – – what a dangerous thing we know that can be!!  (Last time I had time to think, I cancelled our satellite subscription.  My hubby still stares at the fuzzy screen as if the History channel is just magically going to appear)

But this time, my thoughts turned in a more blogger-ly direction, and I realized that as much as I have enjoyed being me by day, and Topsy-Techie by night (well, you get the gist), that keeping my personas separate can be exhausting!  Especially when so much of my freelance work is done online.  When I started this blog, I decided not to share any identifying info about myself because of safety issues.  But having given it some thought, I’m confident enough that even what is out there on the web about me is pretty non-specific anyway.  Makes me think of this great quote I read today…

If someone Googles me, and nothing comes up….do I really exist?????

Gotta love that!  But if you Google me – – the real me – – , truth is, you won’t find out much more than you already know.  I’m a homeschooling mom, raising a couple of boys with unique needs and incredible souls.  That’s usually something along the byline that I give to my freelance work.  You might find out what state I live in…but unless you live within driving distance, and have a penchant for 30-somethings with glasses and cellulite, I figure I’m safe with you.

So….today, I’m coming out of the closet.  My name is Kerry Jones.  And it is very nice to meet you!!

The Real Me !

The Real Me !

Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints: Bargain Hunting

It is almost August! Can you believe it??!! As a homeschooling mom, August has often been a time for me to finalize my curriculum choices, and actually purchase my materials for the upcoming homeschool year. (And once in a while, it is also the time I have my “another-entire-month-of-summer-happy-dance”…just thought you might want to know.) So anyway, how do you get the best deals on curriculum for your children? By bargain hunting, of course! And there are some great online destinations for getting some super prices on just about all things “homeschool.” Here are a few of my all-time faves:

Christian Book Distributors – If you haven’t at least perused CBD’s homeschool catalog sometime in the past, then you are either a brand new homeschooler, or have been living in one of those caves that is so dark and remote it makes the fish in it go blind. CBD is the go-to place for almost any kind of homeschool curriculum or tool. They are also a discounter, along the lines of Amazon and other bulk distributors. Don’t forget to check out their bargains page for even more cut-rates on filler items.

Ebay – Especially in the month of August, Ebay is a great source for curriculum deals…both used and new. Homeschoolers often get into panic mode right about now, cleaning out their curriculum shelves to make room for new stuff, and are getting rid of the old stuff – – often at a large discount. You can even use the “search reminder” function of Ebay to let you know when a product you are looking for comes up for auction.

The Swap – This is the oldest used curriculum site on the web, and includes classifieds, want-to-buy ads, and a large forum area. It also has built in safety features to help you deal with any problems you might have during buying/selling.

Best Book Buys – This site lets you put in a book you are searching for, and find the best price across the web. It will search through both new and used sellers, and tallies the shipping costs for you, so you know exactly what you will be paying.  (Don’t ya HATE how much shipping costs have gone up??!!)

1001books – This is a Yahoo Group email loop that lets you post and search through tons of different ads for new and used books, curriculum, and supplies. There are dozens of new items posted daily to the group. As with all Yahoo groups, membership is required, but it is free.

Homeschool Buyers Coop – This is quickly becoming one of my favorite all-time homeschool resources. The idea behind Homeschool Buyers Coop is to pool together the resources of homeschooling families, so that they get similar discounts to the large school districts on educational programs. Once you become a member (free), they begin sending you emails about upcoming deals. You get to choose the level of savings you want, depending on how many homeschool families sign up for the promotion. Just in the last year, I was able to get incredible discounts on programs like NetTrekker, SpellDoctor, UnitedStreaming, SmartDraw Homeschool edition, and Educationalestore.

Educational Estore – Speaking of the estore, this is one you won’t want to miss out on! The estore will be opening this fall, and Homeschool Buyers Coop members will get automatic 25% discounts on anything they buy! The great thing about estores is…no shipping! And, no wait! The books and materials are instantly available through PDF download, right to your computer. For workbooks, this is ideal, because you can use the book for as many kids as you need to, without having to purchase multiple copies. The estore will carry over 10,000 eBooks, music files, audio files, MP3’s, online software, and more.  

 

Buy Local !!!- Online retailers are wonderful, and convenient, and cheap, but they don’t put a cent back into your local economy. And goodness knows, in these tough economic times, we should do all we can to boost local commerce. So if the difference of what you can buy locally, and what you can buy online is negligible, you might want to consider ordering from one of your local small businesses. Many times, locally owned bookstores will special order just about any book or item you need – – without shipping costs!  Call around and check out the policies about shipping costs and times from your local businesses before you plunk down your credit card online. Just my two cents…

If you have other favorite online or local sources for your homeschool materials, how about sharing them in the comments section? Have a great weekend, everyone!

Dog Days of Summer: Part Deux

Ladies and gentlemen…take your seats behind the center stage so that you won’t miss one single minute of today’s entertaining introduction to the dog of all dogs, the dog of no tricks and only half the normal amount of brain cells, the dog of legends (at least in our neighborhood).  It is time to meet….Squat.

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Squat came to us through another homeschooling family in our town who had found an abandoned young dog, but lived in a rented house that didn’t allow pets.  We had been planning on getting another dog for Uber’s upcoming birthday, but when we heard about a little guy who had already been through a tough time and needed a home, we rushed in to be the Dog Rescue Rangers.  We had no idea what we were getting into.  Some dogs are abandoned because the owners are too poor or too lazy to take care of them.  Some, on the other hand, are abandoned because their owners are scared of them.  This may have been the case with Squat.  I might should have taken a hint when the lady who brought him out to our car and closed the door went skipping back down her sidewalk.  But I didn’t. 

And off we drove.

Uber was elated beyond measure with his new dog, and gave him his new name on drive home.  If you ask him, he will tell you he has no idea why he gave him the name “Squat”, it was just something that came to him – – like the dog. If you ask me, I will tell you that he is named for how many actual brain cells are intact- – Squat! 

We were worried that he wouldn’t take to us right away, but we were unprepared for how strongly and quickly he bonded.  By the time R-T came home from work, the little guy had staked out his domain, and barked at this “intruder” for a full twenty minutes.  You can imagine how well that went over with R-T. 

Other than a tense couple of weeks acclimating him to Frisky, and visa versa, and the normal difficulties with house training, though, things went pretty well.  Then, comfortable with his new home, and his new family, Squat began letting his guard down and “being himself”.  That’s when the fun began. . .

Our first introduction to Squat’s quirks was after having left him alone in the house for the first time.  Apparently, Squat gets a wee bit nervous without us around, and he had torn up the living room mini-blinds trying to watch out the window for our return.  But what was the most unusual, was that when we came back, he began having what can only be described as a “fit.”  He grabbed the nearest shoe, and began wailing, moaning, whining, and some combination of all of these at the same time, while running around from room to room with the shoe still in tow.  He also somehow managed to turn his doggie body into the shape of a perfect “U” as he ran.  We were laughing so hard that I’m still trying to get the pee stains out of the living room carpet. 

We wondered if this was a one-time occurrence…but we didn’t have to wonder long.  We discovered that Squat would repeat this performance every time we left home, and every time he came in the house after being outside for a while.  It stills happens.  To this day.  In fact, we leave shoes near the door, so that he won’t have to go looking for one when it is time to start his episodes (and he will wait to start them until he actually gets a shoe in his mouth!!) Now granted, this is a performance that you actually have to see to believe, and if I weren’t so “doggone” busy today, I would record it for you, but trust me…it has gotten incredible jaw dropping reviews from anyone who has been fortunate enough to see it in action.  I PROMISE to get some video up this week so that you can partake in the weirdness that is our lovable abandoned mutt. 

I could also tell you about the way he licks the carpet in one spot obsessively for 20 or 30 minutes, but that would be overkill, right?  You believe me when I tell you we have a “quirky” dog, don’t you?  Don’t you??  Oh, just wait till I get that video up…..

Dog Days of Summer…and spring…and fall…and winter…

I’m a big fan of the Weary Parent: Parenting Teens and Tweens blog, because she helps poor, helpless geek moms such as myself come up with new and clever ideas for keeping teens and tweens safe, healthy, and occupied (i.e. out of trouble!).  This summer, she has had an ongoing resource called “Camp Weary Parent“, with a new theme for each week.  This weeks theme is “Camp Weary Parent Goes to the Dogs,” so that got me thinking that since we are also heading into the Dog Days of Summer, this would be a good time to tell you a little bit about the least techie members of the Topsy-Techie family:  Frisky and Squat. 

Yes, Frisky and Squat are their real names.  They didn’t mind me breaking the anonymity “claws” on their blog contract, because they currently are looking for television advertising spots for pet food, and could use the publicity.  These two mutts, and they are mutts in the truest sense of the word, are the joy of the Techie household.  They bring us more fun and laughter than any Youtube video ever could, and they are almost as useful.  Here is their story….

Frisky was a birthday present for H-T on his fourth birthday.  We had recently purchased our house, and it just so happened to come customized with a full .75 acre fenced in back yard!  Imagine H-T’s glee!  He had been terrified of dogs up until the age of about 3 1/2, and would run screaming down the streets of any neighborhood audacious enough to have one of those terrifying beasts in its midst.  But magically, almost overnight, this terror turned to curiosity.  Then curiosity turned to felicity.  Then felicity turned into greed, as in “I want me one a’ those doggie things!”  So, for his birthday, we headed over to our local no-kill animal shelter, where a cage of Black-Lab style pups and their adoring mother were waiting for us.  We looked all around the shelter, but there was one puppy whose eyes didn’t seem to stray away from H-T during our whole visit.  She was black, she was precious, and 45 minutes later…she was ours.

Oh boy, were we unprepared for the life of puppyhood.  This dog has a serious oral fixation.  During her teething stage, she would sooth herself with anything and everything chewable, including our power cords.  We lost an electric blanket, a lamp, and a radiator in the course of about two weeks.  We were busily researching how to cure her of this cord obsession, when her cure came in a slightly more overt package.  From one of her favorite hiding places, under H-T’s bed, one evening, she got hold of a lamp cord that also happened to be still plugged in at the time.  H-T, sitting on the bed at the time, was literally levitated as Frisky hit the box springs with a  “jolt.”  Poor girl’s nerves and pride were shattered for some time, but our electrical appliances were safe and sound from then on.

Unfortunately, like most addictions, Frisky’s oral fixation didn’t go away, it just transferred.  She has had a lifelong  attachment to calories.  Doesn’t matter to her if they are in the form of scraps lovingly tossed in her direction, or crumbs that have been lost between the stove and cabinet for six weeks.  She just must have something in her mouth at all times.  Our neighbors have a compost heap, which is up against the back side of our fence.  Frisky has figured out how to get her huge paw through the smallest opening, and pull it back with an old egg shell or banana peel attached.  It is really quite impressive.  Unfortunately, it is also quite unhealthy. 

Last June, we went away for the day, and our precious girl got out of the fence.  We live on quite a busy road, and she had very little experience with cars, and she was struck.  We found her, in the middle of a thunderstorm, curled up under our neighbors bushes.  The animal hospital gave us the grave diagnosis that she had a broken leg, a broken pelvis, and some internal injuries.  Because of her size (she was about 115 pounds at the time – – 25 pounds overweight), they said we might have to put her down because carrying her in and out for bathroom breaks, etc, would probably be too taxing on us.  Too taxing???  This is our dog we are talking about!!!  So, for four weeks, I put beach towels under her rear abdomen, to support her weight, and marched her in and out on her front two legs to the front yard at least four times a day.  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that my back is still recovering from the trauma. 

The vet suggested putting her on a strict low-cal diet, at that point.  My back and I heartily agreed. Over the last year, she has lost quite a few pounds.  We are cutting back on her daily food amounts, and have started buying her only the diet version of her favorite kibble.  We have also tried to stop feeding her from the table or throwing her scraps as I cook.  This is all under control.  What we haven’t figured out yet is how to keep her out of the neighbor’s compost pile.  There are some truly fattening morsels those kind folks are throwing out just within paws reach!!  

She is strong again, though, especially for a nine-year-old.  She runs and plays and looks for crumbs at every turn.  She is our beloved, Frisky…and we love her dearly!  Stay tuned for my next post when I will introduce you to the most lovable but chemically imbalanced member of our family….Squat.

 

Hardwired Homeschool Hints: Organizational Tools

I think I’ve mentioned before once or twice (or twenty times) that I’m an extremely left brained person who lives in a state of continual chaos.  Left brained people don’t handle chaos all that well. So, I pick my battles. One of them is organization.  I can’t control much of the topsy-turvy roller coaster I call life, but I can find ways to keep certain areas whipped into shape.  I call them my Topsy-Techie Organizational Toolbox, and  – – because I like you – – I’ve decided to share some of my favorite tools in the box today…

  • LIBRARY ELF – This probably goes down as one of my all time faves in the toolbox.  Because we are big users of the public library, we couldn’t do without this email library reminder service.  By signing up with the free service, and entering each of your library cards into the database, Library Elf will take care of the rest.  It reminds you of due dates and holds on any type of media in the library, by sending a personalized reminder to your email.  You never have to deal with overdue fees again!
  • I WANT SANDY (Unfortunately, now offline as of 12/08) I am of the opinion that every homeschooling family needs a personal assistant.  With all the comings and goings, scheduling conflicts, and appointments, we could use a little help.  Introducing: Sandy – – your digital assistant.  No matter how big or small the detail, you can let Sandy remind you of it, by sending you messages to your email, Blackberry, Palm, iphone, or cell phone. You talk to Sandy in natural language, and she “gets it”, and makes it really feel like you have an assistant backing you up.
  • DONNA YOUNG NOTEBOOKING PAGES – There are quite a few good websites that catalog printable homeschool organizers. This just happens to be the one I go to most often.  The resources are free and plenteous, including lesson planners, attendance & grade trackers, checklists, curriculum shopping lists, notebooking templates, and homeschool group printables. The forms can be printed and saved in several formats, including RTF, DOC, and PDF.
  • EDU-TRACK HOME SCHOOL – If you are tired of all the paper trail, and especially if you are concerned with the environmental impact of all that paper, you might prefer to do a lot of your homeschool record keeping on the computer.  Edu-Track is a homeschool record keeping and lesson planning software that helps you create lesson plans, track progress reports, keep a teacher’s journal, track hours and attendance, organize assignments, create transcripts, organize unit studies, and many other things.  It isn’t a free program (it costs $59 for the PC version), but it can more than make up for the investment in time and paper-clutter savings.
  • HOMESCHOOL SKEDTRACK – Homeschool has a few less bells and whistles than Edu-Track, but it accomplishes many of the same tasks for free – – and your information is kept online, so that you can access it from any computer.
  • MEALS MATTER – This is a nutrititionally-focused online meal planner that helps you organize healthy meals for your family, and includes meal planning tools such as a meal-planner, cookbook, pantry list, and shopping list.
  • CABLE IN THE CLASSROOM – As you guys well know, we recently chucked our satellite subscription.  But before the DirecTV headed out the window, this was one of my favorite sites for finding and organizing upcoming educational programs.  Cable in the Classroom is a cooperative effort from Cable Television stations to create educational programming that is good for classrooms.  The resources at the website include a searchable index of upcoming educational shows by subject, and a monthly calendar of programming highlights.  There are also links to online video content (for folks like me who have said bye-bye to cable)

I hope you will find something in my Topsy-Techie toolbox that will make your homeschool schedule a little less topsy-turvy, and a little more manageable!  Have a great weekend!

The Honeymoon is Over

It’s nothing new.  I’m sure we aren’t the only marriage it has happened to.  But all that doesn’t bring me much comfort, under the circumstances.  I just didn’t think it would happen this soon.  How could he tire so quickly?  It just doesn’t make sense.  

I’m referring, of course, to R-T and his new computer.  The Vista newness has worn off, and he is back to sneaking around using my laptop.  The whole purpose of getting him his own computer for his birthday, is that my laptop would finally be “all mine.”  But if I leave the house to run an errand, or – – god forbid – – go into the kitchen to fix supper, I can pretty much guarantee that my gool ole’ Toshiba will have found its way into dear hubby’s lap.

desktopI’m feeling pretty stupid, right about now.  I missed all the signs.  The unique way R-T had of lying in bed, with the  laptop propped up on his stomach, with that look of complete peace and satisfaction on his face.  The way he would always lovingly place it on the dresser, out of reach of any danger, whenever he wasn’t using it.  The careful habit he had of wrapping up the AC cord, and putting it next to the outlet.  The clues were all around me, I just chose not to see them.  R-T is a laptop man.

That got me thinking.  In the laptop vs desktop controversy, what creates our personal preference?  I definitely used to be a desktop gal.  I loved having my research books, and physical files all around me as I worked.  Oh, how things have changed.  I do almost all my research online now, and keep pretty much all my data in digital form.  So a laptop, for me, is ideal, because I can work anywhere there is a Wi-Fi connection, and an outlet (my battery isn’t what it used to be!)

What is it that makes us desktop or laptop users?  What about you?  What do you prefer, and why?  I need some input here, folks, because this one has really got me curious?  What is it about a laptop that would get my hubby bored with his state-of-the-art Vista desktop in under two months??  This is one psychological quandry that has me stumped!  So please comment below, and give me your two cents on the issue…

Oh, and if anyone wants to trade their laptop for our brand new desktop, I’m entertaining offers…..

It was good while it lasted.